Lesson - Preparing for Text Completion Questions

Text Completion Questions

Text Completion questions test your ability to interpret and evaluate texts.  They also assess your general knowledge of vocabulary.

These questions present short passages and ask you to use the context of the passage to fill in blanks.  Your aim is to create a coherent and meaningful passage by selecting the correct missing words or phrases.


Each passage consists of one to five sentences.  There will be one to three blanks in the passage.  Each blank will have a selection of answer choices.  Most blanks will have three options from which to choose.  A single blank in a passage will have five options in the word bank. 



For each blank select one entry from the corresponding column of choices.  Fill all blanks in the way that best completes the text.

Vain and prone to violence, Caravaggio could not handle success: the more his (i)__________ as an artist increased, the more (ii)__________ his life became.




The correct answer is Choice C (eminence) and Choice D (tumultuous).

In this sentence, what follows the colon must explain or spell out what precedes it.  That means the words that fill in the blanks must be consistent with the idea that Caravaggio could not handle success.  The more his success increased, the more disastrous his life became. 

The best choice for blank (i) is "eminence," which is a consequence or description of becoming successful.  For blank (ii), it is clear that "tumultuous" with its root word tumult meaning stormy is ideal.  The choice dispassionate would contradict the earlier description of Caravaggio as vain and violent.  Providential does not make sense, and further has a connotation of blessing which is inconsistent with the passage.

Tips for Picking Answers

1)  Read the passage to get an overall idea of its meaning.

2)  Try to fill in the blanks on your own, then go to the word bank to see if similar options are available.

3)  Do not feel you have to fill in the blanks in order.  Pick the easiest blank to fill first, then see whether you can complete another blank.  If none of the choices make sense, you may go back and reconsider your first selection.

4)  When you have made your selections, re-read to make sure the passage is logically, grammatically and stylistically clear.  Make any changes as needed.



As with all the unique skills tested on the GRE, performance improves with practice.  Practice sample text completion questions and evaluate correct answer responses.


Remember that this section tests your ability to perceive consistency in writing and communication of ideas.  Maintaining the consistency is key!  In particular, note the strong adjectives that dominate the overall meaning of the passage.

Also look for key phrases that dictate the structure and direction of a passage (ie., although, however, moreover, therefore).  These will point to the words that will be reinforced or emphasized in the passage.